10 tips for creating a 3D virtual studio

Creating 3D art is no easy feat. In particular, mastering a realistic environment in 3D is a big challenge given the numerous factors that affect 'realism' in a given scene – lighting, texturing, mesh detail and scale are all equally important. However, trying to recreate realism in a game engine is a whole different territory.

Corporation Pop recreated its design studio in Manchester as a 3D virtual environment in Unity 5, allowing the team to try out some of the platform's latest features.

10 tips for creating a 3D virtual studio

Creating a realistic environment in a game engine isn't easy; read on for essential tips

Here are Corporation Pop's top 10 tips on how to create your office or studio as an online 3D world:

01. Pick your engine

Physically based shaders differ between engines so work with a specific engine in mind. Your PBR textures will most likely need tweaking to look good in Unity.

02. Research

For an architectural visualisation, try to get the building plans or make them. Take reference photos, record films, observe the real world, which will help once you start modelling.

03. Scale is key

No matter how realistic your models and textures are, if the scale is not realistic everything will look off. What seems fine on your screen, may look weird in VR.

04. Less is more

A few good props are better than hundreds of mediocre ones. Baking takes longer with a scene full of objects. You can always add more later.

05. VR is something different

To go VR you're likely to need to change a lot or start from scratch as things won't look right once you’re 'in the scene'.

06. Forums are your friend

If you run into problems, forums are your best bet. Even if there is no fix yet, someone may solve it for you or recommend a product.

07. Iterate

If you feel something in your scene is not quite right, don't be afraid to start again as it can be faster than trying to fix it.

08. Try different tools

There is no one way of creating a model or a texture. New software, plugins and resources are released every day so keep researching and trying things.

09. Don’t build what you can’t see

For "walk through" visualisations, consider your audience's viewpoint. Approach it like you were building a film set. This will greatly increase performance.

10. Occlusion culling is vital

The inside of buildings usually have lots of separate spaces. You will improve performance by not rendering objects that aren’t in the camera’s field of view.

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Marta Niemczynska is a 3D designer at Corporation Pop in Manchester. For many years she produced work for animations and commercials and is now focusing on game engines.